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Sweep the Hooch Cleans 16.7 Tons
of Trash

733 volunteers, a 25% increase from 2016, pulled 16.7 tons of trash from the Chattahoochee River during the 7th Annual Sweep the Hooch on Saturday, April 8 in partnership with Upper Chattahoochee Chapter of Trout Unlimited and the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area. 

This one-day event took place at 43 cleanup sites covering 100+ river miles. Cleanup sites included the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area (multiple sites), Georgia State Park sites (Sweetwater Creek, Chattahoochee Bend, and Don Carter), several Atlanta tributaries (Peachtree Creek, Tanyard Creek, Proctor Creek, and the North/South Forks of Peachtree Creek) and Hardman Farms/Smithgall Woods, McIntosh Reserve Park and West Point Lake.

See Change Video Project – We Need YOUR Participation!

Do you See Changes in the Chattahoochee River watershed? The Chattahoochee River drains an immense area of 8,770 square miles — and we’re looking for people who can talk about the changes they’ve seen in the watershed over time.

Whether it’s the wildfires that burned in the Blue Ridge Mountains, low water flows in backyard streams, flooding in urban neighborhoods or extreme hot temperatures, we are interested in hearing stories from the people who live, work and play near the Chattahoochee River.

We’d like to share your stories online — and with your permission — use some of the stories in an upcoming documentary.  Learn more here>>>

Yes Folks, We’re Still in a Drought

With frequent rain in recent months it’s hard to believe that the Chattahoochee ­River basin is still experiencing DROUGHT conditions; that is because we started the rainy season in a deep drought and not enough rain has fallen to make up the difference.

Lake Lanier remains 10’ below full pool.  The U.S. Drought Monitor indicates that 17 counties that depend on Lake Lanier and the Chattahoochee River remain at Level 2 Drought Response, at which time the following outdoor water uses are prohibited: 

  • Outdoor irrigation is permitted twice a week on the odd/even schedule.
    • Even and unnumbered addresses may water on Wednesday and Saturday between 4PM-10AM and Odd addresses may water on Thursday and Sunday between 4PM-10AM,
  • washing hard surfaces such as streets and sidewalks,
  • water for ornamental purposes such as fountains,
  • the use of fire hydrants except for firefighting, public safety and flushing, and
  • non-commercial vehicle washing including fundraising car washes, and non-commercial pressure washing.

Learn more about Level 2 Drought Response here (link). And please continue to use water wisely…there is No Time To Waste.

Because of rain over the last couple of weeks (including January’s “snow” event), no Georgia counties are experiencing an Exceptional Drought now, however, water use restrictions are still in place. Read more here.

On November 17, 2016, the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) issued a release declaring a Level 2 Drought Response that limits outdoor watering to an odd/even (based on house numbers) schedule.

Most of northwest Georgia is under an extreme or exceptional drought. On September 9, 2016, the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) issued a release declaring a Level 1 Drought Response that encourages distribution of water conservation literature as well as restricted outdoor water use.  With winter fast approaching, little more is expected to be done by the state to alleviate the effects of the drought.

Below average rainfall is expected throughout most of the state for the remaining months of the year.  Here are three tips on ways you can save water now for use later:

  1. Fix leaks- fixing toilet leaks will save 73,000 gallons PER toilet annually
  2. Update fixtures- replace pre-1994 toilets with low-flow models to save 6,900 galls PER person PER toilet
  3. Update appliances- replacing pre-1993 clothes washing machine with a WaterSense model will save 3450 gallons at 4 loads PER week

Pollution Levels Plummet in
Proctor Creek

Pollution tracking requires technical expertise, persistence, a certain fearlessness — and sometimes a little help from man’s best friend.  Mike Meyer (pictured above) still remembers the dog that unexpectedly jumped through a hole in a chain link fence, showing him one of the few ways to access a creek in northwest Atlanta suspected of being polluted with sewage.   

He was scouting for locations to take water samples on a tributary to Proctor Creek, as part of Chattahoochee Riverkeeper’s Neighborhood Water Watch (NWW) program — a highly successful initiative that Mike has managed for the past four years.

Today, more than 100 visits later, Mike nimbly squeezes through the dog’s hole in the fence with his sampling equipment, after saying hello to the folks he regularly sees in the community.   He’s told them that he’s checking the water and working to stop the pollution — and that he doesn’t work for the government.
While he can’t tell the residents that this urban stream is totally clean yet, Mike and CRK are celebrating a major victory, along with our volunteers and partners.

Recent tests show that E. coli bacteria levels in the tributary —once a thousand times the federal standard for public health — have decreased by seventy-five percent! As a result, the water in Proctor Creek is measurably safer for the surrounding community and wildlife, although there is still work to be done.

Fifteen Illegal Sewer Connections Found

Proctor Creek was once considered one of the most-polluted streams in the City of Atlanta. The nine-mile waterway begins in downtown Atlanta and flows downstream under Hollowell Parkway, past the Bellwood Quarry and under Jackson Parkway before entering the Chattahoochee River.

For decades, overflows from the city’s combined storm and sewer system spewed pollution into Proctor Creek 60-80 times per year — a public health hazard of enormous proportion.

In the early 1990s, two mini-treatment combined sewer overflow (CSO) facilities were constructed to screen and chlorinate the water before it was discharged into the stream. One of the facilities (known as Greensferry) was built on the tributary mentioned above. Both were failures.

As part of the settlement of CRK’s 1995 lawsuit against the city for its failure to meet clean water standards at the CSO facilities and elsewhere, the pipes in the combined Greensferry CSO watershed were separated and the facility de-commissioned.  In other words, the sewer lines were re-directed to a sewage treatment plant, while the stormwater continued to flow into creeks.

Water quality improved significantly, but problems remained.

In 2010, we began working with local residents and neighborhood groups to test water through our NWW program, an effort that has expanded to twenty monitoring locations in the Proctor Creek watershed; samples are collected by community volunteers trained in U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) procedures. To our knowledge, CRK’s bacteria monitoring initiative in the Proctor Creek watershed is the most comprehensive such program in the state of Georgia.

Spurred by CRK’s NWW data (329 water samples) and increasing pressure from the community, the city conducted an extensive investigation. Ultimately, fifteen illegal sewer connections were found at the decommissioned Greensferry facility and disconnected, stopping most of the flow of sewage into the Proctor tributary.

Proctor Creek and the surrounding community have received a great deal of well-deserved attention in recent years. EPA has declared the stream a National Urban Waters, making federal resources available for restoration initiatives. The city and many nonprofits, corporations and foundations have invested in the human and capital infrastructure in an attempt to revive a long struggling community.

CRK could not do this work without the support and participation of the Proctor Creek community and financial resources provided by The Turner Foundation, The Kendeda Fund, The James M. Cox  Foundation, Courts Foundation, EPA, Drs. Sally and Peter Parsonson, Harland Foundation and others. 

We’ve accomplished a lot in 2016…
take a look!

This year, CRK educated 8,974 students and adults aboard our floating classrooms, tested 4,256 NWW water samples, identified and stopped 16 major sewer spills, responded to 258 citizen hotline calls, distributed 602 rain barrels, and removed 23.4 tons of trash from the watershed!

Take a look at more of our achievements in our 2016 By the Numbers.

Community Spotlight

We would like to thank Cox Enterprises for their long-time support of CRK. Cox has provided invaluable resources to CRK from financial support to volunteer hours and endless media coverage, Cox has been right alongside CRK for over 20 years.

We are also very appreciative of long-time CRK Board Member Bill Hoffman, retiring President of Cox Media Group, and excited to welcome Marian Pittman, EVP Digital Strategy & Research of Cox Media Group.  We look forward to continuing our great partnership in 2017!